After I closed the door, I regretted it just a little bit.
–I couldn’t let it go.
I should have just replied, but I said something unnecessary.
It was no use regretting it.
“You, get out of my way—-“
There was Shinozuka-san in front of me. She looked at me as if she was staring at me blocking the road.
But I can tell. She’s not staring at me. She’s just asking.
I stepped aside and Shinozuka-san walked into the classroom.
She must have forgotten something.
I made my way to the audio-visual room before Saito-san came out.
During the lunch break, I ate my lunch at my desk and read a book.
It was no use worrying about Saito-san. Let’s forget about it.
Few students talk to me when I’m reading.
I don’t like the hustle and bustle of the class, I really want to eat on the rooftop or some other place, but it’s off-limits so I have no choice.
Still, the number of students in the classroom is surprisingly small because many of them go to other classes to play or move to the courtyard.
As usual, only the area around me and Shinozuka-san was quiet.
Saito-san seemed depressed, so her friends in the rear were constantly comforting her.
Apparently, Saito-san didn’t seem to have mentioned anything about me.
However, I could feel the eyes of the rear boys on me from a while ago.
It’s the kind of gaze I know. Suspicion and a twisted sense of justice …… and jealousy?
–Let’s just forget about it and sleep it off.
I was about to close my book and go to sleep when a girl from my class, whose name I did not know, approached me.
“Hey, hey, Shin-kun. Can I have lunch with you? Oh, you’ve already finished eating. Then let’s talk!”
This is another kind of landmine. It’s one of those landmines that you drop at the end of trying to get along.
It happened to me when I was in junior high school.
It was a cold winter day.
There was a girl who came to talk to me when I was alone. …… I forgot her last name, she called herself Nanako. Because of the incident with Saito-san, I was disliked by everyone around me, and I had closed my mind to her.
This Nanako would come to me every recess.
All the students around me stopped that girl. –You will also be attacked, molested, cheated, and violated.
But Nanako, whose last name I’ve forgotten, smiles and tries to get involved with me.
Before I knew it, I was gradually telling the bright and carefree girl about my situation.
It’s not like I’m going to …… like her or anything. It’s not that I don’t like her. Maybe I just had a hard time being alone.
One day, she invited me to karaoke.
I hesitated. Two men and two women in a closed room. It would start another bad rumor.
She said she would take a friend with her.
I thought that maybe I could go back to my normal life.
Yes, I was naive. I shouldn’t have relaxed my mind.
“You’re the one who’s messing around with Nanako? You’re a shady guy, aren’t you? That’s disgusting.”
“Nanako? Did you really think she’d come?”
“I mean, just take out your bag. We’ll play with them!”
I see. I’ve been betrayed so many times.
I went to the designated karaoke box and found a group of flirtatious guys. I wondered if they were students from another school.
One of the flirtatious guys was on the phone with someone.
He put his phone on speaker mode.
‘Oh, are you listening too, Shin-kun? I can’t make it ……but if you want, you can hang out with the guys! They’re all good people!’
It was her familiar voice.
I see, play with them huh…..
The laughter of the charlatans echoed through the karaoke box.
I hate myself for making the same mistake.
I still can’t remember how I escaped. I had the feeling that I had caused trouble for my family again. I thought my stepsister would make fun of me.
No tears came out of my eyes. Instead, I remembered that the old wound on my head from Saito-san was throbbing with pain.
“Hey, heyy, Shin-kun? You’re looking distant, is everything okay?”
I’m okay. I’m fine. I’m not what I was.
With a fake smile on my face, I tell her.
“Thank you for taking care of me. But the book I’m reading——“
“Yeah, you were just about to close it, weren’t you? Come on, let’s talk!”
I feel nothing but good will from her. Don’t surrender to this. You’ll end up regretting it.
However, she was quite a forceful girl. I didn’t even know her name.
I glanced at the person sitting next to me, Shinozuka-san.
–Should I be disliked to the extent that I don’t cause any problems?
Shinozuka-san looked annoyed with wrinkles between her brows.
She looks scary, but I guess that’s just the way she is.
I was spinning the words on my own.
“Shinozuka-san, I’ve finished reading this one, so please lend me that book.”
I don’t know why I said this. I’m sure she’d like to have some peace and quiet too.
” …………………… Hey, look.”
Shinozuka-san handed me the book with a terribly disgusted look on her face.
I can feel the vibe of “Don’t drag me into this.”
She didn’t throw the book at me, but handled it carefully.
I handed my book to Shinozuka-san as well.
“Thank you very much…….”
We started reading the book in silence.
No one wanted to get involved with Shinozuka-san. She’s hated. There are a lot of bad rumors.
We don’t know the truth about any of them, but people judge people based on rumors.
I want people like that to stay away from me.
A girl in my class, whose name I didn’t even know, looked at me and Shinozuka-san several times and then turned to go back to her friends.
Now that I think about it, maybe I should have just ignored her and walked away.
I didn’t know what I was doing.
When she left, I didn’t even know her name, Shinozuka-san and I traded books back in silence.
“Miyu~ is now in a good mood and want to go to karaoke~”
“That’s right, Miyu! I’ll buy you a drink!”
“If you need anything, just tell us, okay? We’re your friends and we’ll protect you!”
“Y-Yeah, that’s right, guys! Let’s go to karaoke!”
Rear-facing groups are always adulterous. They always seem to be fighting for the invisible throne.
–Let’s go home early. I can’t be bothered to get involved with anyone. I have to update my novel today. I wrote on my status board that I’ll update it tonight.
I heard a familiar voice.
I wanted to ignore it if I could.
“O-Onii-chan! Come home with me! L-look, I have a lot of shopping to do that mom asked me to do and I want you to carry it!”
I can’t ignore her because we’re family. I’ll get in trouble with my family again.
My stepsister Haruka came to the classroom.
This is the first time she has done this.
But if it’s a family matter, there’s no choice but to …… do it.
“All right. Please give me the shopping list. I’ll buy the items, so please go home first, Haruka-san.”
“Eh, ah uu….. t-the list is in …… Haruka’s head because I lost it. Yeah, so come with me!”
It’s a waste of time to question it. Let’s get this over with.
” …… Understood.”
I get up from my seat.
The stares from the boys hurt. They seem to be jealous that I’m going out with my good-looking stepsister.
It’s very troublesome.
When did it start? As I grew taller during my growth spurt, I tried to be clean and serious about my school life in order not to cause trouble for my family. I write novels as a hobby in my spare time. That’s all I do.
Since then, I’ve had more troublesome false confessions and landmines. And it’s still like that now.
The boys’ disapproving glances stab me.
I give them a fake smile, and the pressure of their gaze weakens.
Yes, it’s important to let it go.
We leave the school.
I walk a few steps behind my stepsister.
‘If I walk with criminals, they’ll think I’m a bad kid. Get away from me!’
‘Molesters are disgusting, stay away from him!’
‘Poor Haruka, she can’t stand to be under the same roof with a pervert…….’
I had to keep my distance from my stepsister or my stepmother would get mad at me.
My stepsister threw a tantrum as well.
“Hey, heey, w-we can walk side by side? W-why are you so far away?”
So I recognize that this distance is optimal.
When my stepsister stops, I stop too.
If she tries to get closer to me, I move away.
“…… It’s really annoying.”
“I’m sorry, but step-mother will be very upset.”
When I mentioned my stepmother’s name, my stepsister gave me a bitter look and started walking again. She looked just like stepmother.
“Hey, hey, I’ll take one too. It’s heavy, isn’t it?”
I put the groceries I had heard from my stepsister into the basket and ran around the supermarket separately from her. The shopping was done quickly.
My stepsister looked dumbfounded, but my shopping is always like this.
“It’s okay. If I let Haruka-san carry my luggage, step-mother will get angry.”
“Ah, y-yeah, ……, let’s go then.”
My stepsister and I left the supermarket again, keeping our distance.
This distance was a calming factor for me.
“Wow…… there’s a yankee walking around……. scary.”
Shinozuka-san, wearing a school uniform with a shopping bag hanging down, walked up from in front of me.
She looked unusually happy with her phone in her hand.
“I’m afraid to chuckle……huh? Our uniform?”
Shinozuka-san and I met each other’s eyes. A glaring gaze……. My eyebrows wrinkled as usual, as if I were nearsighted.
I tried to smile a fake smile like I usually do, but I couldn’t.
But I couldn’t.
I don’t know why.
I have to keep a straight face. Didn’t I want to hide it?
–We just passed by.
No greeting, no nothing. We just exchanged glances.
It was the right balance.
“Hey, hey, Onii-chan, is she from our school? Ah, it’s the Yankee girl I heard about! She had a scary look in her eyes! I mean, Yankees are …… lame.”
“Eh, what? I can’t hear you! Come closer!”
My stepsister’s words were grating on my ears.
We passed through the park.
“Hey, Onii-chan! This park brings back memories! We’ve had so much fun here!”
“…….Let’s go back”
“Come on, let’s play like we used to!”
My stepsister walked into the park.
I let out a sigh and followed her.
“Wawa, this brings back memories, Onii-chan and I used to build sandcastles here!”
“Yes, we did.”
–I remember it. But not the memories.
The shopping bag digs into my arm and hurts. I want to go home as soon as possible. I want to update my novel. There are people waiting for me.
My stepsister suddenly became quiet.
“Hey, Onii-chan, ……. Why is that? Haruka and Onii-chan are no longer close…….”
I couldn’t help but shout. I think it might have been such a shock.
“You know, Onii-chan has always been so devoted to Shizuka-chan that you never bothered with Haruka at all. …… That made me want to be mean to you when I was a kid…….”
I see, a different sense of right and wrong.
Believing rumors and hitting me badly. Lying to your parents.
I didn’t think my actions would hurt anyone.
My stepsister got on the swing and kept talking.
“It’s Onii-chan’s fault for not taking care of me, you know? Hehe, but, I know now that the rumors about Onii-chan were wrong……. There’s no way Onii-chan, who is so cool, would do something like that! I’m the only one who believed in you!!”
My stepsister jumped off the swing set.
The swing swayed with a squeaky sound.
I kept watching it.
I calmed my mind. I don’t want to make a mistake.
A fake smile appears on my face.
I have no right to speak strongly to my family.
And yet, I do.
“I’m sorry ……please don’t call me Onii-chan from now on. The past will never go away. …… Haruka-san, let’s go home.”
My stepsister had a puzzled look on her face.
It seems that my words were not understood.
Do you really mean it and have you forgotten what you said and did in the past?
“Eh, yeah……yeah? W-What do you mean? Hey, hey, Onii-chan? Uhm Shin-kun? Okay, let’s go home!”
I guess I could have flushed it in a way.
It’s only trouble if it causes problems with my family.
“I’m sorry, the frozen food is melting, so I’ll go home first. Please go home slowly.”
I started running. The bag was digging into my arm. It didn’t matter.
I kept running until I was out of breath.
The physical pain was far more pleasant.
My mind was in disorder and my writing was not going as well as I would have liked.
I got a message in the notification box.
–There is a message.
‘Today’s update is the only thing keeping me sane! I’m super looking forward to it! Hehe, I’m so gloomy at school that the only thing that helps me is Sensei’s stories…… Good luck!’
When I saw that message, I was able to resume writing.
I was able to put my mind in a flat state.
Thank you, Pomeko—-.
Then, late at night, I heard crying and screaming from my stepsister’s room.
“Eeeeee! T-that’s what that means?! W-why …… O-Oni…… gush…… o……”
I managed to post it later that day.